OPPONENT PREVIEW: Cal Golden Bears

Head Coach: Jeff Tedford (71-39)

Record: 4-4 (2-3)

Jeff Tedford has never experienced a losing season at Cal, and if he wants that to continue, this a road win his team absolutely needs.  After their visit to Pullman, the good news is they travel home for the final three games of the season.  The bad news is that two of those games are Oregon and Stanford. 

This weekend will be a true test of just how bad Cal can be on the road.  They've lost all four of their games away from Memorial Stadium, including blowout losses to Nevada, Oregon State, and USC.

OFFENSE: 31.3 PPG, 5.6 YPP #44 S&P

Starting quarterback Kevin Riley is out for the season, which means Brock Mansion will get the call on Saturday.  He is a junior, but has not had much experience for Cal.  Brock has thrown just 33 passes in his career thus far.  He doesn't have a whole lot to live up to, as he takes over a passing attack that ranks just 83rd in the country in S&P.

Brock's best targets are junior Marvin Jones and freshman Keenan Allen.  Jones leads the team in receptions with 37 and receiving yards (565).  Allen has 33 catches on the year and a paces the Bears with five touchdowns.

The best skill player on the offense is running back Shane Vereen.  He leads a rushing attack that ranks 18th in S&P.  Vereen has rushed for 774 yards on the year and ten touchdowns.  Against a WSU team that has been dominated by good ground games time and time again, expect him to have a field day.

Cal should have no problem moving the ball if they let their inexperienced quarterback turn and hand off all day.  However, there has to be that temptation to give Mansion a chance to have a good performance and gain a little confidence, especially after the way Steven Threet ripped apart the Cougs last Saturday.

DEFENSE: 22.4 PPGA, 4.8 YPPA, #19 S&P

The Golden Bears are at their best when the other team is passing, which bodes well for them on Saturday.  The Cal defense is 20th in the nation in passing S&P and 11th on passing downs.  Against a Washington State offense that lives off of success through the air and has a running game that leaves it in a lot of expected passing situations, Cal should have an advantage.

As for the individuals, junior linebacker D.J. Holt leads the team with 57 tackles on the season.  Mychal Kendricks has made 9.0 tackles for loss from his linebacking position.  Cameron Jordan has wreaked havoc from the defensive line, recording 7.5 tackles for loss and four sacks. 

Overall, Cal is very good at getting to the quarterback and that may play a large role in their success as a pass defense.  The Bears have 22 sacks on the season.  WSU's Jeff Tuel has grown accustomed to scrambling for his life and this week should be no different.

Cal is in trouble if...They really suck that bad on the road.  They are obviously the more talented team in this matchup, but they have had some really poor performances away from Berkeley.  We'll see on Saturday if that was more a product of tougher opponents, and less about the location of the games.

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